One of the most common and crippling fears is that of failure. Nobody wants to be seen by their peers, colleagues, or friends as a failure. The term has so much finality to it, it seems like once you fail you’ll never get out of that place. The truth is, failures help us move UP. Let me explain.
Failure Applies To A Task Not A Person
Failure itself isn’t something to be feared. Failure is simply information on the results of a task. In fact, scientists and researchers deal with supposed failure on a regular basis. I used to work in Research and Development at major electronic materials manufacturer and we always said there were no failed experiments. We would use the information we gathered to hypothesize on the results of an experiment. If results turned out differently than we expected, we simply took the new data and applied it to our next experiment.
Fear of failure comes when we allow it to define who we are instead of simply defining the outcome of a task. We must learn to separate the task from ourselves. The tasks failed, but we didn’t.
So, what about when we make a bad decision which leads to the eventual failure of a task? We can feel as though our actions caused us to become a failure. But, even in that situation, the failure rests in the decision we made, not within our identity. We need to look at what lead us to make that decision and how we can avoid it from happening again in the future. But still, it shouldn’t define us.
The Core of Our Fear of Failure
In just about every instance, our fears are a reaction to negative feelings. The feeling we typically experience from failure is humiliation, which becomes stored in our subconscious mind and associated with the failure of the task.
STOP! Think about that… you don’t fear failure, we fear the feeling of humiliation. Right?
That pain in our subconscious mind remains there undetected, doing it’s dirty work every time an opportunity arises. When we see potential upside, our subconscious reminds us of the potential downside, as well as the horrible pain of humiliation we can expect when things so wrong.
Think back to when you started that fitness program; you were “checking in” on Facebook and posting pictures from the gym, letting everyone know you’ve started a new healthy lifestyle. Then when work got busy, the gym dues became tough to afford, and your kid’s soccer and gymnastics started up, you stopped going. You had to face the painful humiliation of friends seeing you in the same shape you were in before your lifestyle change, or worse.
Imagine the incredibly negative force imposed on you by your subconscious mind, a force you must overcome the next time the idea of getting in shape pops into your head. Add to this the repeated “failures” most of us experience in this area and you begin to understand why it’s a lot easier to sit on the couch eating chips and dip while binge watching our favorite series on Netflix.
Overcoming The Fear of Failure
Now that you understand what’s happening in your subconscious mind and understand your real fear is with humiliation, not failure, you’re already better equipped to change your course than almost everyone else you know.
In my upcoming course, Reaching the Finish Line: Going from Dreaming to Doing, I have several very simple exercises to help you explore what events in your past have caused your subconscious condition in this area. Additionally, I offer up tools and resources to help you address the voice of fear that may pop up in this area.